Meet Carly and Ellie!
These life-size mechanical animals travel the country visiting elementary schools and teaching kids about empathy for all. Their lifelike movements and mannerisms even make many children ask, “Are they real?” But the real magic happens when they start talking—and educators watch as Carly and Ellie captivate students with their inspiring stories.
Ellie is a recently freed “elephant” who moves her head and wiggles her ears as she shares her story about being rescued from the circus. Then she talks to students about the importance of having empathy for all sensitive living beings, both large and small.
Ellie’s mission to end speciesism includes her explanation that all animals have needs and wants—just like humans—and that we should refer to them using the personal pronouns “he” and “she” rather than “it,” because animals are sentient individuals who deserve our respect and consideration—they’re not inanimate objects. Ellie speaks up not only for animals exploited for entertainment as she was but also for those used for experiments and product testing, food, and clothing.
Although Ellie carries a serious message, she offers a fun and engaging experience for students as she giggles along with them while emphasizing how similar all animals are—even though humans don’t have fur, fins, or feathers! At the end of her interactive presentation, she and the accompanying PETA staff ask thought-provoking questions that strengthen students’ empathy and promote kindness—because after all, empathy is a muscle that children must exercise often in order to strengthen.
Are You Teaching Virtually?
Your students can experience Ellie’s presentation from the safety of their homes with this interactive video:
Carly is our mechanical cow who teaches schoolchildren that cows experience love, loss, and loneliness and helps them understand that no one deserves to suffer.
Emotional complexities and intellectual capabilities aside, animals can feel pain—and just like us, they value their lives and don’t want to suffer. Carly reminds students that all animals (including humans) are the same in the ways that matter most. It’s crucial that kids learn that we are capable of making choices based on ethics—such as how to feed, clothe, and entertain ourselves—and should reduce suffering whenever possible.
Carly is full of facts, too! Did you know that it takes 683 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of milk? This educational cow wants to ensure that all students have a bright future by making sure they understand the impact that their food choices have on the world. And just like Ellie, Carly brings follow-up materials with her so that students can continue learning about the emotional lives of cows even after she’s left.
As schools around the country face an epidemic of bullying, it’s essential that we teach students to have empathy and respect for all living, feeling beings—regardless of species. Students are spellbound watching Carly and Ellie speak and move, as they soak up information that helps them become more conscious, compassionate, and thoughtful citizens.
Complete with key vocabulary, higher-order thinking questions, and follow-up lessons, Carly’s and Ellie’s presentations include touching, age-appropriate anecdotes of ways humans and other animals are more alike than they are different. Their stories drive home the theme that bullying is never OK—and they can help schools meet character education mandates in your state.
As an educator, you have a chance to teach your students that all animals—rats, pigs, dogs, and children alike—feel pain, happiness, and fear and want to live. Teaching empathy and compassion for animals not only helps animals but also lessens the likelihood that kids will be cruel to other kids (or to other adults when they grow up). We know, for example, that many violent offenders, including many serial killers, started out harming animals before moving on to humans.